Long off as Royals beaten at Derby
28th November 2009
Despite taking the lead through Gylfi Sigurdsson, the Royals lost at Derby, as the Rams hit back with two second half goals from Paul Green and Rob Hulse, who never fails to score against us whatever club he is playing for. Sub Shane Long also saw red for a shocking challenge late on as the Royals tasted defeat for the first time in November.
On the back of a three game unbeaten run, Brendan Rodgers side headed into this game at Pride Park full of confidence and after Simon Church recovered from a hip injury, named an unchanged starting 11. The first half was a very even contest with both side`s creating half changes but neither doing enough to really give the goalkeepers any real worries, apart from a Gary Teale effort.
Jobi McAnuff is the man in form at the moment and he saw an early effort go just wide, and fresh from signing a new contract, Sigurdsson tried a speculative effort go wide from fully 30 yards. Derby`s attacks were lead by Scot Paul Dickov and the pint size striker looked to get in behind the Royals defence and did give Alex Pearce and Ivar Ingimarsson a few problems, forcing them to concede needless free kicks.
Fifteen minutes in, the Royals were dealt a blow when Brian Howard was forced off with a head injury with Jem Karacan his replacement as the box to box man of the midfield three. Teale then had the best effort of the half, when he turned and shot from outside the area drawing a fine save from Adam Federici.
Church was looking lively up top but his only real sight of goal came from a Sigurdsson pass that Rams keeper Stephen Bywater did well to save. The Welsh striker drew another stop from the former West Ham keeper before the break, but the sides went in level.
At half time, Shane Long replaced Church upfront and from the first chance of the second period we took the lead. Jay Tabb got forward well from right back and set up Sigurdsson who fired low into the corner of the net, his second goal in two games and a great way to celebrate that new deal.
Unfortunately the lead didn`t last long, and Derby hit back with a goal from Paul Green after a cross from the left caught out the Royals back line. The Rams had reacted well to going a goal behind but Brendan Rodgers will be disappointed to have conceded a goal less than 5 minutes before taking the lead.
His response was to revert to a 4-4-2 formation and brought on former Derby man Grzegorz Rasiak to replace the goal scorer Sigurdsson. He almost made an immediate impact, Tabb crossed from the left but the Polish striker`s half hearted effort went wide of the mark.
Derby continued to pressure the Reading goal though and took the lead when left back Jay McEveley got forward and put the pull into the box where Rob Hulse was waiting to score. The Royals responded though and if Jimmy Kebe hadn`t delayed his ball into Rasiak, we probably would have levelled but he delayed far too long and was tackled. Rasiak did get a chance from the resulting corner but it went over.
As we approached the last 10 minutes, substitute Long chased a ball down and appeared to be fouled but the ref gave nothing. The frustrated Irishman got to his feet and launched into the Derby right back Fredrik Stoor, and was rightly shown a red card leaving the Royals with ten men and not much hope of snatching a draw.
We threw everything forward as the game came to a close but despite efforts from McAnuff and Pearce, the Rams held on for the win and the Royals were left to contemplate an end to a short unbeaten run.